Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sick day

Not for me or Gus, thankfully, but Jon has been sick since Monday.  He went to work Monday feeling fine and came home at lunchtime with the flu.  I am so grateful that I got my vaccine when I was pregnant, because so far I feel 100% (knock on wood!) and Gus seems well.

As bad as I feel for Jon, with his fever, aches and pains, and--the worst of it all--not being able to give Gus any kisses or cuddles, I am also selfish and am beginning to feel a bit sorry for myself. Parenting is tiring work, and I didn't realize just how much I depend on Jon in order to refuel and get some time for myself (even if it is usually spent doing the dishes and cooking dinner!). I have basically been the sole caregiver since Sunday night, besides a couple of diaper changes before Jon left for work on Monday, and, after 48 hours, I am ready for a break! Every time I put Gus down to nap this afternoon and early evening, he would wake up. Jon would try and sing to him from across the room, but Gus would have none of it. So I would pick him up again. Thankfully, I have our Moby wrap and was able to get dinner ready while wearing the wee guy.  But I have done every diaper change, all the playtime, and, like always, all the feeding for two days straight. I am not saying this to complain--I think Jon has the short end of the stick,  overall. But I do hope that life is back to normal soon!  I really don't know how single parents (or temporarily single parents, due to business trips, deployments, etc) do it. Just one more reason to count my blessings!

Of course, in a few days' time, I will be complaining that I am not getting enough time with Gus, as the family will be hogging him over Christmas, I am sure.  I'll look back wistfully on today, when I had little Gussy all to myself :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One Year as Homeowners!

Today is our one-year anniversary of living in our house!  Last year on this day, I was doing the last minute things  to move out of our flat (our lease ended that day), Jon was working most of the day and then coming home to our new home, and his brother and uncle were sitting outside our new house with all of our belongings, waiting for the estate agents to call saying the keys were ready to be picked up. The estate agents forgot to call us to let us know all the paperwork had gone through--luckily Jon made it to their office about 15 minutes before they closed and was able to retrieve the keys!  But we were able to spend our first night, on an air mattress, in our very cold but very own house. 

The house needed quite a lot of work done. although nothing that made it unliveable.  So far, we have:

  • stripped the wallpaper in the living room
  • painted the walls and (most of the) ceilings in the living room, 2 bedrooms, hallway and landing
  • put in gas central heating, including a hot water heater
  • gotten new carpets throughout the house (2 weeks before Gus was born!)
  • put new lights in kitchen, bathroom and living room
Things left to do (not necessarily in the near future):
  • paint the nursery
  • finish painting internal doors and door frames 
  • put in wardrobe in our bedroom
  • redo kitchen
  • redo bathroom
  • redo the back yard (right now there are only patio blocks, three beautiful rose bushes, and a few random plants. We would love some grass and vegetables back there--if either of us knew how to garden!)
  • get the lock changed on the garage so we can actually use the big door (we don't seem to have a key to unlock it!)
Although homeowning is tough work, it is pretty satisfying as well. For months after we got the house, I would walk back from the bus stop and think I am going back to my own house!!  And it is wonderful to think that this is Gus's home, where he was born and where we will experience all sorts of his firsts. We are very blessed to have such a great place to live (and we remember that doubly on horrible cold nights like these).  Thanks, house, for being such a great little home for us!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Links to some good giveaways

I would really like to write a real post, but for now, you will just have to make do with a couple of links and a picture of the wee one.

Rixa at Stand and Deliver is giving away a beautiful sling baby carrier.  But I really want to win it, so just click over to her blog and read all the great things she writes about birth, but don't enter the giveaway ;)

At A Perfect Lily, she is giving away a whole bunch of things for a really good cause--to help rescue a little girl with Down's Syndrome from a life in an institution--they just ask for a donation in order to enter the giveaway.  I only found this blog today, so haven't read much of it, but it is about one family's life with a DS baby.  I read the birth story (as I do) and was in tears.  Will definitely have to go back and read more.

And, as promised, a picture of Gus with his wee friends Bee, Octopus, and Bear (4 weeks old):

(I must cut those tags off of Bear's ear.  Luckily, Gus is not actually that interested in toys yet, so the tags pose no problem at the current time.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reflections on Gus’s first month

Gus is one month old already! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone.  Here’s what I think so far about this whole parenting business.

Parenting a newborn is both easier and harder than I thought it would be.  Some days it feels so natural and easy—even bouts of fussiness are easy to deal with, emotionally if not physically.  And other days, I feel like I have no idea what I am doing, nothing seems to work, boredom and frustration are the main themes of the day (both for myself and Gus, I think!).  Hopefully the ratio of easy to hard days is in my favour, although the first week had a surprisingly high number of good days.  The first week Gus and I were home on our own probably had a majority tough days, but that was at least partially due to being stuck in the house from the ice and snow.  Change of scenery definitely helps make a day smoother!

I have never worried as much in my life as I have in these last four weeks!  The first night Gus was born, I was so physically exhausted, but it took hours to fall asleep.  Part of that was because I was just in awe of him and didn’t want to stop staring, but part of it was the feeling that he would only be okay as long as I had my eyes on him.  That feeling hasn’t yet completely gone away.  I am sure I will never go completely back to my previous laid-back self, but I do hope that the knot in the pit of my stomach when he is not in my line of vision will go away sometime soon!  The first car journey, I was almost sick worrying about what all those horrible other drivers on the road might do to us. Going out of the house in general is not completely okay unless I have the little one firmly in my grasp.  No one can be trusted to with my Gus except for me—not even Jon!  And every little odd thing Gus does—sleeps too much, doesn’t sleep enough, makes a funny face or noise—is evidence that we have somehow irreparably damaged our precious little boy.  Of course, all these thoughts are my emotional brain talking; for the most part, I let my rational side calm me down and convince myself that every is and will be okay.  And I have noticed that the frequency and severity of these worries are diminishing slowly but surely (I think!).

It is amazing how much difference a little bit of sleep can make. Evenings are so much harder when I am tired, whether due to not enough sleep or too much activity in the day. And even a small amount can make a huge difference.  I remember waking up one morning—a rare day when Gus actually woke up in the morning instead of sleeping till 11—and thinking how I would feel human if I only could get half an hour more of sleep. And other nights, begging him to fall asleep for even a short while so I could replenish my energy a little bit. Most days, both Jon and I get a reasonable amount of sleep of sufficient quality.  But the days where we don’t? Worst. day. ever.

Hormones are crazy, crazy things. I feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster, and the above three things are definitely influenced by the hormones.  Again, there are fewer days where I feel the influence now than at the beginning, but still find myself crying at the most ridiculous things.  The first three weeks, I think there were more days where I cried than not.  But now, most days are tear-free, or at least tears are mostly shed over things like television commercials, not about my uselessness as a mother or the myriad dangers that my little one faces and my inability to protect him. 

I feel like a one-trick pony in my interactions with Gus.  Whenever he is upset, my first reaction is to nurse him. On days when he has been nursing 2 hours straight or he cries while latched on, I feel like maybe I should add some  more tools  to my parenting belt.  And I also wonder if maybe I am comforting him, but not really solving the problem that he was upset about in the first place.  And don’t get me started on when he is awake and alert.  I have never really known how to interact with babies, but figured it would come to me when I had my own.  Yeah, not so much.  I am okay for about 10 minutes, talking and singing to him, playing with him. But then I am out of ideas—and tired!—and think, aren’t you ready to nap again? Roll out the all-purpose breast again!

I am pretty sure my house is never going to be put together properly again.  Not that it was very tidy or organised before.  But now, I consider it a good day if I manage to put a load of laundry in the machine (but rarely take it out and hang it up) and get my lunch dishes into the kitchen (and never clean them) before Jon gets home. I just cannot figure out how to get anything done around the house during the day, and I am too knackered in the evening to do much more than dishes and dinner (and finish that pesky load of laundry!).  Gus sleeps pretty well in his crib at night, but during the day, he seems to only want to sleep while being held, and you can only do so much with him in the sling. I’ll sort it out one of these days. Hopefully.

Newborn growth and development is amazing.  I love watching Gus grow and change before our very eyes.  You can literally watch him get bigger—his little hands and arms get chubbier, clothes fit more tightly than they previously did.  The new skills he learns are equally obvious.  I could tell as his eyes were focussing more on various objects.  This week, he seemed to add a whole host of new sounds to his vocabulary overnight.  Really adorable sounds, too :)  Exciting times we live in!

It is a cliché, but it is astounding how much you can love someone. And how quickly he captured my heart!  One of the reasons he is held so much while sleeping is that I love to just hold him and look at him—could do it for hours.  Everything about him is beautiful and wonderful and makes my heart hurt.  If I am away from him for too long, I literally feel an ache—and not just in my over-full breasts!  And away from him can mean just a couple of hours of other people holding him. He is just so precious to us!

So that is parenthood so far.  Things do change quickly, though.  Even as I was writing this, I wanted to use the phrase “used to”, but how can there be a used to when we have only been doing this for a month!?   We’re ready for month number two!

Friday, December 3, 2010

7 Quick Takes (volume 2)

My parents have come and gone, now.  It was so nice to have them here, and they said they enjoyed it, even though most of the time we were sleeping or just sitting around doing nothing.  Well, there was a lot of cuddling the baby, as well!  

Gus and I have had 3 days on our own, now.  We're doing pretty well, I think. Although it is a relief when Jon gets home each day.  The main problem I seem to have is that I love to hold Gus while he sleeps, but just about the time I am ready to put him down to do something around the house or take a nap, he is ready to wake up. I need to figure out how to put him down during the day!  I did try putting him in the sling one day in order to make my lunch.  It worked quite well, but mostly I don't think about it until he is already asleep and I don't want to wake him.

We haven't really left the house since Monday, and I am getting a bit of cabin fever.  It doesn't help that a) we don't get out of bed till about 11 each day, b) it gets dark at 4, or c) it has been snowing and/or below freezing all week.  I was planning on going to the store this afternoon, but decided I should nap instead. I might go and meet Jon at the busstop when he comes home, even if bundling up the two of us is a lot of work for a 10 minute outing.

Also because of the snow, we have cancelled two appointments at the US Embassy to register Gus's birth and apply for his passport. This is really getting quite annoying, since we want to go to the US soon. But the trains in the UK are not very reliable in the snow, and we do not want to get stuck on one with Gus, or stuck in London with trains stopped for the day.  One train got stuck overnight the other night in between two stations and wouldn't let the passengers off for 9 hours! It was not on our line, but still not a good sign.  We have rescheduled for Tuesday--pray the weather is good by then!

Today was the first day on our own that I have been able to take a shower before Jon got home. I put Gus in his bouncy chair in the doorway of the bathroom and sang to him while I showered. It worked pretty well; he seemed pretty content throughout. Then an hour later he spit up all over me and my hair smells like milk. 

Gus is still the sweetest thing ever. I expected him to have some sort of schedule--probably not one that matched with mine, but a similar sort of pattern most days. Nothing like that so far; I feel the days are pretty unpredictable in terms of when he will be awake or when he will be fussy, etc.  He must take after me in that respect, because Jon loves to have a schedule for each day--I bet he has eaten lunch at 12 everyday since he was born!

Gus generally isn't a fussy baby, but he does have periods many days when he gets a bit agitated. When he gets really riled up, he will want to nurse, but be too anxious to latch on, even when he is all in position.  Then he will start making these funny snorting sounds--Jon calls him our little truffle snorting piglet. It is quite pathetic, but it always makes me laugh--good to lighten the mood a bit when both baby and mommy are getting a bit anxious!

For others' quick takes, check out Conversion Diary!